Now the weather has turned, we’re quickly on the way into the depths of winter, with the frosty mornings and shorter days that comes with it. This makes it a good time to give your car a quick once over, to limit the chance of experiencing a breakdown in the cold winter months.
We’ve brought together some of the best tips to keep your car healthy over winter and make sure you don’t end up marooned on the hard shoulder, while the temperature plummets.
Keep your battery charged
Batteries have a tough time in winter, as drivers make much more use of headlights, heaters, heated windscreens, heated seats and other electrics. As a result, your battery may drain faster than normal – particularly if you cover many short journeys, when the battery doesn’t have enough time to charge back up as you drive.
To make sure that your battery always has enough oomph to get your car started in the morning, occasionally taking the car for a longer drive should keep enough charge in the battery.
Alternatively, if you have a garage or can park close to a plug, you can buy a battery charger for less than £30.
Make sure your tyres have lots of tread left
Tyres are one critical part of a car that many drivers overlook. However, they are even more important in the cooler winter months. Heavily worn tyres will struggle to clear water on wet roads and so will offer less grip and require much more space to stop the car than normal.
Making sure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure should also keep you safe on the road. In areas which regularly experience snowy conditions, snow socks may be a good investment. These devices wrap around your tyres and provide extra grip on snow, meaning the difference between being marooned and continuing on your journey.
Check all of your lights
With longer nights, winter sees drivers using their headlights a lot more than normal. Therefore, if your car has any faulty bulbs, or even weak lights that don’t shed much light on the road, it may be worth investing in a new set of bulbs.
Uprated bulbs are also available and produce a lot more light, making it easier to negotiate dark roads. If you do go down this route, make sure that the ones you buy are approved for road use (as some super bright bulbs are designed for off road use). If you’re checking your headlight bulbs, it’s also worth making sure that indicators, reversing lights and other electrics including wipers are all working as they should.
Ensure you have a spare tyre or breakdown cover
Many new cars no longer have spare tyres, in car manufacturers’ quest to save weight and free up boot space. To avoid being stuck should you get a flat tyre though, it’s worth either buying your own spare tyre, or getting breakdown cover that will tow you home should one of your tyres lose its air.
Some models, including a number of BMWs, have run flat tyres that can still be driven on temporarily, even if there is no air left in the tyre, giving you an opportunity to get to your destination before having to replace the tyre.
Keep warm clothes and a little food in the car, just in case
Even if you take all these precautions, problems do sometimes pop up, so it’s wise to have a few key things in the car, just in case. If you have a breakdown or a flat tyre, having warm clothes and a blanket, along with a little food and water should keep you comfortable while a recovery van arrives.
If temperatures are set to plummet below zero keeping a small, lightweight shovel to hand may also prove useful.